To stay as healthy and injury-free as possible as a runner, you'll need to perform some backend work in key areas. One such area is your hip flexors. Here's how to stretch your hip flexors to keep the miles flowing without interruption.
You may not give them much thought, but your hip flexors — the small muscles that provide flexion at the hip joint — play an important role in your running. But modern, largely sedentary lifestyles, full of hours sitting at a desk, can shorten these muscles, hampering an otherwise fluid running stride.
To keep them moving as they should during your runs, here's how to stretch your hip flexors.
Before your runs
This is the time for a dynamic stretch to get your hip flexors good and loose. Exercises such as leg swings and lunge variations can be your best friends here. Consider a lunge matrix: front lunges, side lunges in both directions, and rear lunges. Repeat 10-15 times in each variation before moving on to the next move.
After your runs
Dynamic movement is still good here, but you can also add in a few static stretches, such as the "figure four" stretch, now that the workout is over and your muscles are warm. To perform this stretch, lie on the ground with your feet planted. Place one ankle on top of the opposite knee in a "figure four." Holding that position, gently pull your supporting knee toward your body and push your other knee out with your elbow. Hold, and repeat on the other side.
While not formal stretches, make sure you get up frequently and take short walks, do air squats, and just move your body after you've been sitting for a while. Motion is lotion, as the saying goes, and this definitely applies to the hip flexors.
The name of the game is keeping your hip flexors long and flexible. Learning how to stretch your hip flexors, and staying consistent with the practice, will help you keep them loose and elongated. It may not prevent every injury, but it can go a long way toward healthier, happier running.
Our writer's advice is intended for informational or general educational purposes only. We always encourage you to speak with your physician or healthcare provider before making any adjustments to your running, nutrition, or fitness routines.